Turkey Tourism 2017 – can we expect a better year?
There is no denying 2016 was a struggle for tourism and many other industries in Turkey. The normal presence of Russians was all but non-existent. A spate of bombings and an attempted military coup really didn’t sit well with holidaymakers or property investors. But what’s the future hold for tourism and the property sector in Turkey? Can we hope for a better 2017?
Bombings, a failed military coup, political feuds and a refugee crisis have taken its toll on Turkey.
Towards the end of 2016 the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) estimated that Turkey stood to lose up to $10 billion in tourism revenue by the end of the year. The Associations Secretary General, Cetin Gurcun commented, “If we consider the volume of the Russian market alone, it’s not easy to fill the void”.
Coastal areas like Antalya rely heavily on the Russian tourist market. Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet in November 2015, and the Russian Presidents subsequent ban on flights to Turkey, resulted in an estimated 89% drop in Russian tourists – a figure hard to make up.
Turkey ranked as one of the top 10 most popular world tourist destinations in 2014.
At its height in 2014, Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. It attracted over 42 million tourists; over 4.5 million of these were Russians placing them as the top visitors to Turkey after Germans. If Turkey’s problems had solely been with Russia maybe the tourist shortfall could have been recouped. But a spate of terrorist bombings, political uncertainty and media scaremongering dropped hefty additional blows to the tourism sector. Many Brits and Europeans opted to holiday elsewhere in fear of further incidents. Most of those that did come to Turkey left to a chorus of concerned friends and family saying, “are you mad?” or “Turkey’s dangerous” rather than evaluating the full facts or appreciating the size of the country or intricacies of the issues causing the fear.
Even here in Fethiye, the area famed for its ‘blue lagoon’ normally attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists each summer, there was a very obvious drop in tourist trade. Loyal visitors to Turkey, foreign property owners and familiar faces were who filled the bars and streets rather than the first timers discovering the magic of the country for the first time. If you spoke to tourists they told you “it’s the same charming Turkey it always has been, we have seen no trouble here, it’s just a lot quieter”. The main saving grace in 2016 was the rise in local and Arab tourists, especially over the Bayram period, attracted by the drop in room rates and incredible deals on offer. But what can we look forward to in 2017? Will the terrible New Year attacks in Istanbul and Izmir mean tourism is in for yet another tough year? Let’s look at the positives;
The Russians have started to return
Thankfully many of the problems between Turkey and Russia now seem to have been resolved. The letter of regret Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent to Vladimir Putin last June seems to have eased tension. Antalya and Dalaman airports welcomed the first Russian charter planes back into Turkey last September with flights now resumed for the foreseeable future. The Hurriyet Daily News reported on December 26th 2016 that around 3 million Russian tourists are expected to come to Turkey this year, a vast improvement falling in line with numbers seen during 2015.
The Americans are set to make a comeback.
Restrictive travel advice for Americans travelling to Turkey is expected to lessen once the Trump administration comes to power this month. Trump has expressed that the US intends forming closer ties with Turkey so it is hoped that current travel warnings and the fear it causes will lessen as a result.
The Chinese are on the horizon.
In an agreement with China, Turkey can now expect one million Chinese tourists every year in return for an increase in Turkish tourists to China. This will not only increase tourist spend, but also strengthen ties between the two countries. It is expected that they will head to Istanbul as well as take trips and organised tours along the coast.
The Government are taking measures to attract tourists back to Turkey
The Turkish Government has already, and are continuing to take, significant measures to ensure tourist figures and numbers return to reasonable measures during 2017. According to Anadolu, Turkey’s leading news agency, Turkey’s tourism officials are expecting recovery and are planning to attend 112 expos in 56 countries this year, including the UK, Germany and Russia. They employed 50 representatives to deal with public and commercial concerns and answer questions at the World Travel Market held in the UK last November. They received a very positive response.
The Government has also promised continued subsidies to airlines bringing tourists to certain airports in Turkey. The initial $6000 fuel subsidy for each aircraft, originally from June to September 2016, has now been extended into 2017.
Investment experts tip Turkey as a great place to invest in property during 2017
According to an online report on January 5th by popular overseas TV show ‘A Place in the Sun’, Turkey remains on their top ten list of places to buy in 2017. The report took into account the significant drop in tourist numbers and terrorist and political concerns over the past 12 months quoting figures gathered from the Turkish Statistical Intitute (TurkStat),
“Istanbul is the most popular place for foreigners to buy, with Middle Eastern buyers accounting for the most international sales there. Antalya is the second favourite province with non-Turkish purchasers. Fethiye area remains a firm favourite with the British, accounting for three of the top five locations for our web searches. Chic and classy Kalkan also remains popular, as does the peninsular of Bodrum”.
International travel experts are encouraging people to visit Turkey in 2017.
“If you want a bargain summer holiday during peak time in the Med – Turkey is where you’ll save money” said Simon Calder, Travel expert on the popular British TV Show, ‘This Morning’ last week. Simon, a respected TV journalist and travel correspondent for the Independent and Evening Standard, is pro Turkey. He has written a number of great articles encouraging readers to put the risks into perspective and continue to visit and enjoy the country. In an article in the Independent on January 1st, just hours after the horrific attack on an Istanbul nightclub, Simon wrote,
“I look forward to returning to Turkey soon, because the best way to counter random violence is to assert its futility by not changing your behavior. The risks of a holiday in Turkey remain low, with road traffic accidents presenting more of a danger than deranged gunmen or terror attacks. This vast country has welcoming people, a rich heritage, fabulous cuisine and great beaches.”
Reading the hundreds of online comments below the article shed light on public opinion and thankfully many readers wholeheartedly agreed with Mr Calder. A few of their comments,
“The terrorist attack in Turkey may also happen tomorrow in our own country. I was in Antalya two months ago, I love this country. I’d go back again because I love the Turkish people” (Maximus – Jan 5th)
“Terrorism is all around the world, not only in Turkey. This country is an amazing place. Me and my family have lots of good experiences and spent excellent holidays. We will never give up going there and neither will our friends.” (ES – Jan 5th)
So what for the future of property in Turkey? Will foreign property investors return with the tourists?
“Turkey always pulls through, it’s a strong country”, says Suleyman Akbay of Oceanwide Properties. “Despite the countries struggles in 2016 Oceanwide Properties had a good year. We are still receiving serious enquiries and Turkish properties are selling although the market has changed. The number of British investors were down over the past twelve months but there was a surge in local and other foreign sales and enquiries that helped make up the shortfall. I believe it’s unrealistic to think that tourist figures will miraculously return to the numbers we saw in 2014, it will take time for many foreigners to regain confidence in Turkey. I do however think that we can expect a better year and I’m feeling very positive about the future”.
What are your thoughts on Turkey tourism 2017? Will it be a better year for Turkey? Please leave comments below.
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